“Mission to Seafarers” in an effort to support men and women working at sea provides useful guidelines on how to manage distressing events while on board.
hen distressing events happen that are out of our control, most people feel upset, shocked and at times overwhelmed. Whilst at sea, such events might include injuries, operational incidents, bullying, or problems at home. In recent times, wider world crises and conflict may impact our lives.
Human reaction to stressful situations
No matter the age, rank, gender or job, it is natural to feel worried or distressed during such uncertain and often traumatic times. There is no one “correct” way to be in response to stressful events.
For many people, when a stressful event is over, the following reactions will settle down steadily over the next days or weeks. Sometimes these reactions can remain, or come and go, particularly when a situation is ongoing:
#1 Thoughts: Unpleasant images and thoughts; bad dreams; mind racing; hard to concentrate
#2 Behavior: Making mistakes, arguing with and shouting at people, avoiding the company of others, watching and reading the news much of the time
#3 Emotions: Tearful, sad, anxious, angry, frustrated, irritable, numb, unmotivated
#4 Physical changes: Feeling sick, aches and pains; diarrhea; headaches; changes in appetite; sleeplessness; fatigue
Whilst uncertainties continue, it is important to find ways that might help in managing any natural changes in feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
How to cope with the impacts of stressful events?
- Get help for practical concerns
- Talk it through
- Take regular breaks from the news
- Have a structured routine
When events onboard or in the wider world are difficult, anxieties will understandably arise for all crew members, with some feeling more troubled than others. This can be expressed as irritability and unfair hostility towards colleagues, increasing overall tension and friction within a crew. However, challenging events can also be a time for crew members to pull together.
For this reason it is important to have in mind the following:
Stop: Take a moment to pause, collect your thoughts and try a ‘calming’ coping method.
Think: Consider what you are worried about. Try a ‘regain control’ coping method
Act: The smallest of actions can make a meaningful difference. Check in on one another, it’s good to talk, and equally good to listen. Include senior officers and crew, nobody is immune to the impact of events. And it can be lonely up top.
Reach Out: Contact The Mission to Seafarers, we’re here to listen and support.
It is of utmost importance to stand against any behavior that leads to a person feeling bullied or isolated.